Author: Lane Stark
Publication Date: March 22, 2012
Format: Kindle 529 KB | Paperback 354 pages
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Author's Goodreads Profile: Lane Stark
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“It was the hour of prowling bears, circling night owls, vengeful spirits, and savage hearts. It was the hour of predators.”
Two murders have shocked and divided the Canadian community of Bella Coola, a small, isolated village in a remote river valley on the coast of British Columbia. The evidence points to a teenaged Nuxalk boy, and the simmering tension between whites and tribe members heats up. To find the truth RCMP Inspector Marcus Chao must sort through misleading clues, cultural conflicts, tangled relationships, sexual scandals, and even indications that the crimes might have been committed by a sorcerer.
Marcus is a man whose life has skidded into remorse and misery. His own infidelity has ended his marriage to the woman he still loves, and now he finds himself with only two things to keep his sinking spirits afloat: the need to serve justice and his eternal fascination with solving the mystery of the crime. This latest puzzle, however, is proving to be a maze of intrigue and suspense, and his mettle as a detective as well as his principles will be tested.
I have to say that I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I am totally a "judge the book by it's cover" type of girl and this cover was one that just didn't pull me in. If I saw this on a book store shelf I would likely pass right by it without a second thought. I am so glad that I was contacted by the author to review this though. And having read it, I now have to say that the cover sort of fits somehow. I know that's weird to say that after my whole cover judging! The town of Bella Coola is one that makes outsiders feel extremely uncomfortable. From the minute they step foot into town, there is something that makes them feel like they need to leave. The town is essentially cut off from the outside world by mountains on all sides which seems incredibly imposing to someone who isn't used to the isolation. That's the feeling that I get from this cover, so it's actually very fitting.
I read this book in a pretty short amount of time. I really couldn't make myself put it down once I started. I was really hooked from the very first chapter. There really isn't one main character in the book, the story as a whole revolves around the a whole group of characters. Each one fits into the puzzle in a very specific way. Marcus Chao would be the most obvious one to choose since it's named "a Marcus Chao Mystery", but he doesn't really make a heavy appearance until about 1/4 of the way through.
There is so much going on here and I don't want to spoil anything since the plot is really pretty intricate, at least in my opinion. I had my suspicions on "who done it" but I wasn't prepared for how it really all ended up coming about. There is a lot of racial tension here between the Nuxalk Indians and the white people. Bella Coola is literally a town divided and the whites are blaming the Indians and vice versa. The murders are ritualistic in nature and seem to point to the Indians, but the investigators think that it's too obvious and that it's just as likely that it's someone trying to blame the Indians.
It's a little creepy at times with all the ritualistic and Indian sorcery stuff. The characters are all really well thought out and they all have very complex stories. I really liked that there were so many other things going on in each characters life. We get to see them trying to live their lives while all this is going on around them. Each side story is connected to the bigger story in some way to make for a really great plot. This isn't just a murder mystery or thriller, it's so much more than that. There is a little suspense, scandal, racial tension, murder, tribal superstition, lore, rekindled romance and it's all surrounded with just a hint of what could appear to be magic.
This is really well written and edited. I am looking forward to see what Ms. Stark writes next. I would really like to read another Marcus Chao Mystery! If you like a really good mystery/thriller you shouldn't pass this one up. You can get the Kindle Version on Amazon for only $2.99 right now if you click my link up there.
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.*